In 1954, Milwaukee native Mary Widrig John forged a plan to create a professional theater for the city. The result was the Fred Miller Theatre on Oakland Avenue [now home to the Miramar Theatre], so named after the head of Miller Brewing Company and chair of the theater’s fundraising campaign who died in a plane crash before the project was completed. The Fred Miller Theatre produced a standard repertoire of Broadway hits featuring well-known performers to draw initial audiences. In the early 1960s, the company re-organized by creating a resident acting company and expanding its repertoire to include classics and premieres of new works. The name Milwaukee Repertory Theater was chosen in 1963 to reflect this new philosophy. In 1968, The Rep moved into the 504-seat Todd Wehr Theater in the new downtown Performing Arts Center. The move spurred attendance and helped The Rep establish a firm operating base and a large pool of subscribers. In 1974, The Rep converted a small warehouse space into an additional 99-seat theater, and the Court Street Theater housed artistic exploration, the development of new work and plays suited to an intimate setting.
The Rep moved to its current home across from Milwaukee’s City Hall in 1987. A cleverly converted power generation plant, the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex houses three theaters, the Quadracci Powerhouse (720 seats), the Stiemke Studio (205 seats) and the Stackner Cabaret (118 seats), which is also a full-service, restaurant and bar. Together, these spaces offer a variety of staging options and host a wide range of dramatic fare. The complex also houses all of The Rep’s rehearsal facilities, production shops and administrative offices.